My Top Five WordPress Plugins

Most people who know anything about WordPress have heard of plugins – as the years have gone by, more and more have become available, letting us expand and grow our websites alongside our businesses. If you can think of something you want your WordPress site to do, theres probably a plugin for it!

The less sunny side when it comes to plugins is that if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for, they can be a bit of a minefield. It can be a real case of trial-and-error to find a plugin that not only does exactly what you want it to do, but one that is also regularly updated and provides support if you need it.

Many plugins now have a Free and a Pro version – this allows you to ‘try before you buy’ to an extent. Sometimes the free version will meet your needs, and sometimes you may be looking for the extra features that the Pro version will provide.

Some questions to ask when looking for a plugin:

  • Has the plugin got many reviews? If so, are they positive?
  • How many times has the plugin been downloaded? More users can indicate a better product
  • How long ago was the plugin last updated by the author (WordPress will tell you this; if it’s been years then it may well have been abandoned or no longer supported)
  • What support is available? Is there a link to an external site specifically for information and support for the plugin?

My Top WordPress Plugins

Jetpack

Jetpack is made by Automattic, the same company who own WordPress.com – so it’s a given that it’s regularly updated and highly compatible with most WordPress.org websites.

Jetpack allows you as a site owner to access a powerful set of tools to maintain your site – such as website traffic stats, auto plugin updates, and image optimization. There are both free and paid plans, the paid allowing you to access a greater range of features including backups, malware scanning and spam protection.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is pretty much the go-to solution for selling things from your website. It gives your website e-commerce facilities so that you can quickly set up products which can then be sold and paid for through your site.

This plugin is free so you can get up and running pretty quickly – there are also many additional and complementary plugins out there to extend the capabilities of WooCommerce though, for example shipping zone calculators, recurring subscriptions and integration with various third-party payment gateways.

Most of these will cost money, so be sure to plan out your online selling model so you know what you need it to do and therefore what extra e-commerce functionality you’ll need from your site.

Yoast SEO

Regarded by many as the best SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast SEO is a good all-round solution for a site – you can get some benefit from it even if you’re somewhat of a novice! Yoast can help you set keywords for your WordPress posts and pages, and then give you pointers on how to tweak things in your content so that you get found for them.

It’s worth taking some time to go through the plugin Settings to get the most from this one, and again there’s an option to pay for Premium support if you wish.

Gravity Forms

Ok, there are a number of contact form plugins out there, and this is one that requires a paid licence – but I think this is one worth paying for. The Form Builder makes it quick and easy to create anything from a basic contact form to an order form or even a multi-page form – and from a developer point of view it’s easy to customise and tweak visually to fit in with the overall website design.

If you need your site users to fill in information based on conditional logic, then you’re definitely onto a winner with this one.

WP Migrate DB Pro

Ok, this last one is probably not something that your regular ol’WordPress user will require – but as a developer it’s worth it’s weight in a yearly licence fee.

When building sites, I tend to build them locally on my computer, then push them up to a ‘staging’ site – this is like a preview area on a subdomain where the client can have a look at the almost-finished product before it goes live and onto the url that the public will see it on.

Each WordPress site has a database, and this plugin makes it a LOT quicker and easier to transfer that database from the site I’ve been working away on up to the new staging one, and vice-versa. It also reduces the risk of things going wrong in the process – which can be an all-too-common occurrence!